Chicago basketball full Steam ahead

Yes, of course, the NBA lockout is over. But the Bulls aren’t going to hit the court again until Christmas. Meanwhile, there’s still basketball in Chicago. The Chicago Steam, a developmental league that prepares players for future professional careers, not only lets you watch basketball, it’s also an inexpensive and kid-friendly good time.

The Steam, a member of the American Basketball Association, has been playing in Chicago for the past five years and is the most consistent team in Chicago, besides the Bulls, says co-owner and coach Ron Hicks. The team trains players to play professionally in Europe and Asia, and with the NBA’s developmental league. They’ve sent 29 players to Europe in the past five years and even have a former player who’s currently with the Harlem Globetrotters.

But what kids will like best isn’t seeing future superstars, it’s getting the chance to feel like one themselves. During breaks in the game, kids get the chance to head down to the court and do everything from playing musical chairs to running races, Hicks says. On Baby Night, Dec. 10, you can start your infant on the path to college savings by entering him or her in the baby races where the winning prize is $200 towards their future education.

The Steam plays 45 games each season against 10 other teams from the Midwest, with the season running through March. Games are played at Fosco Park Community Center in Chicago and South Suburban College in South Holland. Tickets are $10, $5 students and seniors, and free for kids 12 and under. On Baby Night, parents pay just $8 and infants are free.

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